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TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

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Sometimes, on a quiet weekday night, I get the urge to do something. Oh sure, Ally McBeal might be on. The 9 o’clock news might be doing an expose on televangelist exorcisms, the effectiveness of Nads hair removal lotion, or the supposed evil plot of vicious Yankee ducks with an insidious desire to lure dogs into the water and drown them (I saw that one time, I’m serious.) But, in spite of such possibilities for TV enlightenment, which are fun in their own special way, I occasionally want more. The real stuff. Life lessons. Hmmm…but where to find such things? On one such night, recently, I found myself mysteriously led by my friend George to Peabody Place, downtown’s multiplex of fun and happiness. What was it, I wondered? What could be drawing us there? And then I saw it. It’s the newest piece of evidence in support of the argument that Memphis is a sports town, and the only extreme sport with the high-octane adage of “please hit the ball gently.” Glow-in-the-dark putt-putt! Of course! Say what you want to, but I contend that some of life’s basic lessons can me learned from a good round of miniature golf. It’s hokey, I know, and you can make fun of me all that you want to. But I’ve emerged from the enchanted holes of fluorescence a more enlightened person. How, you ask? Well, amongst philosophical gems far too numerous to list in their entirety, there was one that shone like a Day-Glo snail crawling on a prop mushroom. I think it would help everyone immensely to adopt the revered “six stroke maximum per hole” rule. Stop giggling. The timeless proverb revealed above is an important improvement upon the well-loved adage of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” You see, in the tenets of the glowing mini-golf philosophy, which are helpfully painted on the wall of the course for your perusal, you get three bonus tries! Who couldn’t use that? In the physical golfing world, sadly, this has the unfortunate effect of changing my game from putt-putt to putt-putt-putt-putt-putt-putt. I’m sorry, I know that was bad. Moving on… The one downfall of my experience at the mini-golf course came about two-thirds of the way though the 18 delightfully fluorescent holes. Against my will, I found myself stuck on a neon lily-pad, beneath a lighthouse, unable to get the ball in the hole and with Matthew Sweet crooning passionately in the background all the while. It just wasn’t fair. Matthew Sweet? There should be laws about such things. The only similar musical low-point I can remember so vividly was when Bryan Adams was at Memphis in May last year, and started belting out “Cuts like A Knife” just as I stepped into a porta-potty. Actually, that was probably one of the funniest things that ever happened to me. I thank Memphis most humbly for that gorgeous absurdity. All in all, the course is worth the $7 it costs to get in. At least once, anyway. The game is especially worth it if you’re a mediocre player like myself, who can nevertheless get it together in the finals and hit the pivotal hole-in-one that awards you a free game. Surely, I didn’t deserve the prize based on my score, but I’m cashing that sucker in. Free mini-golf makes for even better mini-golf than usual. I credit my auspicious stroke to years of study in New Jersey’s boardwalk arcades, where ski-ball wasn’t only a way to get prize tickets, but a way of life. Tears came to my eyes as I watched the ball fly in beautiful precision toward its goal at the mouth of an alien spacecraft, though maybe the tears were more the result of the moon and planets that glittered in course paint glory. Thinking about it objectively, however, I think I was probably still crying over the Matthew Sweet. Such depressing music for a night at the holes, but nothing can be perfect. Now go, have fun. And always remember, in times of strife, to place your “ball six inches from all obstacles.” It works. I swear. Want to respond? Write mailonthefly@aol.com.)

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